A celebration of abilities

    You may not notice disabled students when you walk around campus, but they want to be recognized. It is important to them that everyone knows that they are just like the rest of us and that they make up a big part of the UCSD student population.

    Anna MacMurdo

    The disabled community on our campus gets its assistance from the Office for Students with Disabilities. OSD helps and encourages disabled students to be successful personally, academically and professionally. It also helps them become aware of their own abilities, as well as promoting student development and self-advocacy.

    In addition, OSD acts as a UCSD and San Diego community liaison for resources, programs and services. Most importantly, it encourages disabled students to achieve and maintain their independence.

    According to UCSD’s guidelines on nondiscrimination on the basis of disability, a person with a disability is defined as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which greatly limits one or more major life functions and has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. Disabilities can include motor and sensory limitations or can result from chronic illnesses and syndromes.

    Currently, over 1,000 UCSD students are registered with OSD, with the number rising daily. To comply with the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the University of California forbids unlawful discrimination based on disability in its programs, services and activities.

    To accommodate disabled students, OSD provides many services, including disability management counseling, in-class note takers, sign language interpreters, peer mentoring, examination accommodations, real-time captionists, problem resolution assistance and resource referrals. Students who have permanent or temporary disabilities that limit mobility have access to an intra-campus transportation service operated by OSD. The UCSD Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee has also established principles to ameliorate access issues for the disabled community on campus.

    The university is committed to ending the discrimination of people with disabilities so they may participate in and experience campus life the way nondisabled people do. In addition, programs, policies and procedures intended to enhance or protect access by disabled people are consistent with and advance the university’s mission of research, instruction and public service.

    Throughout the month of October, the UCSD community will be celebrating the abilities of disabled people during national Disability Awareness Month.

    “”[Disabled people] are the largest minority group in America, but they are the least represented, especially on our campus, “” said Michael Leyva, outreach coordinator for OSD. “”Hopefully, we can let the community know that there are a sizable amount of disabilities in our community and on campus.””

    Throughout the month, many events will be staged to raise awareness for disabilities. To accommodate disabled people, all events will be wheelchair accessible, and American Sign Language interpreters can be requested if necessary.

    A three-lecture series will be given, including one on Oct. 1 featuring keynote speaker Carol LeBeau, anchor for KGTV Channel 10 News. LeBeau will speak about her experience with clinical depression.

    On Oct. 22, Dr. Georgia Sadler, associate director of outreach at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, will lecture on breast cancer. Dr. Fred Levine, associate professor of pediatrics at UCSD and adjunct professor at the Burnham Institute, will speak about diabetes on Oct. 23. Following all lectures will be question-and-answer periods.

    An art exhibit titled “”A Celebration of Abilities”” will be on display through Oct. 22 in Price Center Theater and Ballroom foyers. The paintings, photographs and sculptures exhibited were created by people suffering from mental, physical and developmental disabilities. On Oct. 2, the artists will be at the Artists’ Reception in the Price Center Theater foyer from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., with free food and drawings for free prizes.

    Entertainment will be provided by Mark Goffeney, a guitarist and vocalist who plays with his feet, and Jack Robertson, a trumpet and harmonica player, on Oct. 2 and 3. After their performances, there will be a question-and-answer session with the musicians about their disabilities. Community Advocates for Disability Rights and Education will also set up an information table. There will also be free cookies and a drawing for prizes.

    On Oct. 10, the Cross Cultural Center will show “”Dialogues with Madwomen,”” an Emmy award-winning documentary by Allie Light about women with mental illnesses. A discussion will follow the film.

    “”The emphasis at these events will be on the abilities, not disabilities, of those featured,”” Leyva said. “”We want to let [people] know what they can do, rather than what they can’t. The events will also allow students to learn more about the disabilities and illnesses.””

    Disability Awareness Month will not be the only chance for UCSD students to learn more about disabilities. This fall, OSD is starting up a Disabled Student Union.

    “”We are looking not just for disabled but also nondisabled students,”” Leyva said.

    The DSU will give disabled and nondisabled students a chance to get together and speak out on behalf of the group. It will create awareness of disabilities and issues faced by the disabled community on campus and provide opportunities for student leadership. It will also provide disabled individuals with a network of support and work at amending UCSD policies and campus accessibility.

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